The Baby’s Gone

“The baby’s gone.”

I see her, the one I love,
surrounded by wilted flowers.
Her sheets, her dress, are torn, bloody.
It’s as if something with a monstrous claw…
Do not awake oh innocent one
taste the blood on your lips.

“The baby’s gone.”

She’s sitting bolt upright
clutching nothing to her breast
staring at her bloody hands sharp nails
and has she bitten her tongue?

“Murderer.” “Cannibal.”

And above the accusations
the howling of a stag-hound bitch
for her six slaughtered pups.

“The baby’s gone.”

The circles beneath her eyes
are dark as the moon that has ceased
to ride across the night skies as she crawls
on her hands and knees through the long dark tunnels.

Upon her back she carries the world as a theatre
acting out a mystery play that begins
as a nativity and grows dark.

“The baby’s gone.”

And is that his laughter
she hears on the other side
of the wall or is it some changeling
she follows fingers tracing hieroglyphs?

Has this happened before and did she draw
these very pictures to remind herself?
Seek not the truth at the heart
of the labyrinth dear one.

“The baby’s gone.”

In the play I am evil –
on my head there are bull’s horns.
They dare not admit I am her father or lover
or brother reaching out from behind the curtains
to take the son who is mine from
where she lay with another.

“The baby’s gone.”

Where did I put him this time?

She’s tracing the outline of an otter
and she is splashing through the water
on the bank of a river with him trying
to catch a silver salmon slipping

through his claws turning to stone –

a cold dead speckled fish and next
the dragonfly that landed on the end
of her nose and how we laughed…

She did not see the wolf in me.

“The baby’s gone.”

Yet I saw her wild horse.

She’s close to touching the truth.
She’s reading the symbols like braille.
On her back the bone mare is riding to the stable
where the claw lies severed fingers clutching
neither boy nor foal but emptiness.

(We cannot hold what we love.)

He is the object of her riddles.

“The baby’s gone.”

I am behind her curtains.

On the stage there is a man
beneath her skirts and the time
of revelation is drawing nigh.

“The baby’s gone.”

When she reaches the heart
of the labyrinth the truth is too terrible
to behold the centre unfolds.

She gallops back into not-knowing.

She is waiting outside the stable
for the old man leading a colt
with a boy upon his back.

Whose is this kindness?

“The baby’s gone.”

4 thoughts on “The Baby’s Gone

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